Monday, 16 May 2011

Counting down to Athens

Counting down to the Queer Beograd trip to Athens (we travel in 3 days time) presenting the 'Border Fuckers Cabaret' and also our booktour and exhibition.
For years members of the Athens crew have been coming to our 'Queer Beograd' festivals, supporting us and adding their voices to our program, now finally we go to visit them. I have to say the situation in Athens looks a little 'tense' to say the least. A few days ago one of the people we go to stay with and with who we collaborate with to organise the whole visit wrote to me:

'dear jet

good morning.

Athens is tough with unrest the last days, with horrible things happening, the one after the other.

monday morning a man was killed, when 3 people tried to steal his video camera. (his wife was in labor and he was fetching for the car to take her to the hospital, he was greek, tragedy).

monday afternoon, fascists were beating up immigrants, all over the center (because supposedly the people who killed the man where immigrants), and also attack two anarchist squats.

tuesday morning general strike and a big demonstration takes place. 30 people end up in the hospital beaten up by the police, two very seriously, one in critical condition, since he had a hematoma in the brain, and now is in icu. the other one had his spleen removed.

early today in the morning fascists kill a 20 year old immigrant from Bangladesh.

last week in exarxeia square (the movement's part of town) violent encounter leads two people in the hospital (both alive by chance).

which makes me think: how much is a life worth?

the atmosphere in athens is really dark and gloomy and like no hope.

just wanted to let you know what is happening in my head..

many kisses and sorry for the horror newsletter


For much of the time leading up to the Athens trip myself and the rest of the beograd crew have been going 'yay! we get to have a summer holiday together'. One of the great things about going to OTHER places with Queer Beograd stuff is that they can pretty much be guaranteed to be LESS scary and violent than Beograd.

Our friend in Athens was also worried that she doesn't have the time or focus to carry on with performing in the event we prepare. Ive been collaborating with her to write a script about the Greek political situation and that can include some of their concerns as women and queers - issues of violence/sexism/homophobia - which often get ignored as part of the 'REAL' political agenda and seen as side issues. For me it also makes sense to try and collaborate in a way where we have at least one piece that can be performed in Greek.

me....being me... well I try to talk her around to carrying on with the show - because its been hard work to get the whole gig organised like fuck am i going to let it drop so easily - and because this is how i survive everything, I write about it, i make shows about it. For sure we might be performing in the midst of a totally crazy situation - but my solution is to do a speed rewrite that includes much of what she wrote about. I dont wan't to be too much of a bastard about it but i WILL have a go at pushing this through.

Again i ask myself about how i can focus on such 'frivilous' things (writing/performance/books/queer and feminist stories)when the situation is so serious. But i believe we need beauty, creativity, i can't cope if all there is... is to fight....and i tell myself, at least if we write the stories, they will remain and our struggles can be there for others to know.

And as i rewrote the script - I tried to talk (yet again) about how hard it is and how despairing one can feel when all the fighting for a better world includes so much actual FIGHTING. That being surrounded by violence can bring so much sadness, and always the search of how to keep unpicking this from underneath.... to keep on and on and on trying to change the actual power relations of a society rather than to find ways to be bigger or stronger in the fight.

Love and rage, love and rage, love and rage.

Im a little scared of the whole 'tear gas and rubber bullets' sound of Athens, but also excited to see my crew very soon.

Here's a link to the Athens Crews page for our visit:

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Why are we (perverts) here?

There are many kinds of activism, I'm aware of making choices about where I place my energy - having abandoned the idea that I can be in all places at once or manage be all things to all people.

At some point I decided to go with the things that brought me joy, that I had special talent for and that I felt most passionate about. Activism can easily become a self sacrificing activity - I clearly remember the words of some one in an activist burn out workshop - 'you have to remember you are not jesus christ'. while Im pretty clear on not being the messiah I have had to put some work into letting go of the egotistical fixation with trying to single handedly 'save the world'.

Having said that from time to time I find myself questioning the validity of some of the activism I do - especially the kinds that involve having FUN. Im a big pervert (you may have noticed) being a sex educator and OUT pervert are part of what I consider my activist life. But being in Sanfrancisco and larking my way through a four day perve conference and then doing the workshop for the Exiles I felt the occasional twinge of guilt. At times I found myself asking questions about privilege....who gets to attend leather/BDSM events? why do so many of the participants seem to have a higher level of income? and how does this community engage with broader political issues?

At this point I'm going to say that YES I think on the whole the international perve community IS a very priviledged space, conferences are for the most part populated by above average income earners. But at the same time I don't want to dismiss those spaces as they provide valuable education, safe expression and focused political action in terms of freedom of sexual expression and a challenge to moral conservatism. I would also say that such gatherings and communities can act as radical developmental spaces in terms of how we form our most intimate relationships ....which I believe is inextricably bound to how society functions as a whole.

Coming home to the gritty streets of London stung me a little and it wasn't just the jetlag, it was noticing how violently transphobic and homophobic the streets of London can be. Most often when I travel I am spending time in places that are noticably more dangerous for queers than London. Stepping out into the streets with miss dotty after the ease of pervertsville SanFransisco it was shocking to experience the aggression coming our way particularly from men who seemed to be defending a very fragile grasp on their 'masculinity'.

Take it from some one who has done some indepth market research, I can reliably tell you that the veneer of heterosexuality is very thin. As a kink professional the number one fantasy scenario that I hear from guys is 'enforced' feminisation and 'enforced' Bi. No kidding....most 'straight' guys want to dress up in 'female' clothing and get fucked up the arse....(shhh, don't tell anyone - ok!). So I can tend towards a jaded laughter when I see this kind of aggressive macho posturing from guys (apart from when I think i might get my head kicked in).

Miss dotty and I mused as to why heterosexuality and the rugged gender binary need to be defended so fiercely if they are such natural ingrained parts of our society. A society in which we queers have some how managed to pop up as aberrant statistics, an odd anomaly amidst the rigidly straight and narrow.
The power of being a pervert, is to give weight to the lie that heteronormativity and the gender binary do anything BUT smother us all with a sickly smeer of faux normality. A normality under which seethe the suppressed desires for freedom, not just in the bedroom but to spill out onto the streets and live as we truly are.

Yeah, I'm gonna spend some more time fucking for freedom.